By staff April 1, 2007

Exploring the Rosemary District.

Hip new life for a historic downtown hub.

Though it’s touted as Sarasota’s up-and-coming neighborhood, the Rosemary District has actually arrived. Reborn as a chic shopping mecca, the historically designated area is reminiscent of warehouse districts around the country that have been infused with new life by artists, adventurous chefs and the most innovative retailers around.

With Central Avenue its hub, the Rosemary District spreads from U.S. 41 to Orange Avenue and from Fruitville Road to 10th Street. We wandered the length and breadth, delighted by the treasures within its bounds.

Young Turk Jaime Anast reigns over the younger, more contemporary counterpart of the classically elegant store his parents, Pam and Marcus, oversee. The new two-story add-on offers hip glamour and funky antiques, lots of white, gloss enamels and colors as hot as this chair ($1,800). The Sarasota Collection Home Store, 622 Central Ave., (941) 955-8313.

Talent Show A gallery of local artists’ wares (from pottery to jewelry, clothing to glass), this shop shares its name with owner Laura Daniel Gale’s favorite English pop band. We love the kitsch handbags, actually called Trash Bagz by Mimi Mae ($48), for their retro art and vintage one-liners. Everything But the Girl, 430 Central Ave., (941) 954-8800.

Taste Test anything you like in Sarasota Olive Company, from first-crush extra virgin oils to signature olives and cheese. The owner of this old world specialty food market, Kelly Kary, says the lunchtime paninis ($7), were added to show off the store’s gourmet products. Now they’re so popular "they’ve taken on a life of their own," she says. Sarasota Olive Oil Company, 1419 Fifth St., (941) 366-2008.

Memory Boosters Skin memory, that is. Jose Eisenberg products fly off the shelves in Europe because they coax skin cells into working as they did in their youth. Crème Cosmetic’s owner Marina Eckert has exclusive dibs on the lauded Parisian’s new "trio-molecular" potions: Youth Elixir ($81), Anti-Age Complex ($146), and Toning Lotion ($45). Crème Cosmetic Emporium, 422 Central Ave., (941) 330-9660.

Sphere of Influence Home Resource owners Michael and Kathy Bush have changed the decorating tastes of Sarasota with chic, contemporary furniture like the new Sphere table ($1,875) of aircraft-grade aluminum, glass and polished steel balls circling its base. Top it with an optional glass Lazy Susan ($125). Home Resource Contemporary Furniture, 741 Central Ave., (941) 366-6690.

Divinia’s Decadence "If it’s not chocolate, why bother?" is the slogan at Cosa Bella, a new emporium of all things chocolate, including 90 percent pure "Chocaviar" ($14.99 for 1.14 ounces) and seductive signature cakes like the three-layer, three-inch Cosa Bella ($6.50), shown here. Divinia Jeanne’s Chocolate Heaven, 1490 Boulevard of the Arts, (941) 366-5888.

Kicking It Up Bam! Everyone knows chef Derek Barnes got his start in Emeril’s New Orleans kitchen. But did you know local business folk have become addicted to his fish tacos ($11) since the hot spot opened for lunch? "They’re the hands-down lunch favorite," the chef confirms. The secret ingredients: caramelized anchovies, smoked garlic and the freshest Gulf fish. Derek’s Culinary Casual, 514 Central Ave., (941) 366-6565.

Isn’t That Precious? Malachite, turquoise, tiger iron, abalone and mother-of-pearl tiles are the newest extravagance in home embellishment. Two-inch gem tiles are $7 to $10; prices climb to $1,000 for a 12-inch square of solid malachite. No wonder owner Manny Turcotte’s clients swear him to secrecy. Ravenna Distinctive Home Finishes, 418 Central Ave., (941) 342-0108.

Salvage Star From Egyptian gates to British garden statuary, Sarasota Architectural Salvage is a treasure trove of cast-offs and the antidote to landfill clutter. Rummage away and you’ll help owner Jesse White on his mission to clean up the world. Antique Pennsylvania Dutch tin roof stars run from $25 to $150. Sarasota Architectural Salvage, 1093 Central Ave., (941) 363-0803.

Don’t Forget To…

Power-breakfast at the new Hotel Indigo; the interiors are designed in geometric repetitions inspired by the life-balancing Greek number, Phi.

Sign up for Pilates at Cinde Carroll’s fitness studio; the former fitness director at the Colony offers inspiration and an atmosphere that’s Hollywood-Zen.

Stop by Robinson Spry Interiors (941-365-2030) for some of the best-looking framed art and home accessories in town.

Protect your hair care color with organic shampoos and more (from $16.49) by Keune of the Netherlands; Europe’s hot new line is only available at DaSaka Salon.


The art of the pour.

Raise the Bar with this hand-cut and hand-polished crystal bar pitcher ($425), a classic from Moser, the Rolls-Royce of Czech glass (every item guaranteed lead-free). Check out the brilliantly hand-faceted bottom with every pour. Ashley Avery’s Collectables, 1425 First St., Sarasota (941) 955-9593.

Count Your Blessings with an Angels of Avignon glazed clay pitcher ($79), part of a tableware collection by French potters that celebrates St. Bénezét and the golden angels legend says helped him build the Pont d’Avignon. Main Street Traders, 1468 Main St., Sarasota (941) 373-0475.

Silent Butler is witty nonetheless when attached to this conversation piece of a pitcher ($175) by noted Australian pewter artisan Carrol Boyes. Water Jug Man is part of her collection of serveware at The Wright Look, 533 S. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota (941) 330-1807.

Blown Away by art glass? Three artisans worked on this mouth-blown Flore pitcher by Juliska ($155). One artist shapes the form; a second drops on dots of molten glass and a third fashions them into flowers. Write-On Sarasota, 1423 First St., Sarasota (941) 953-2800.

On a mission for 20th-century treasures? Jack Vinales’ trove of art pottery pitchers includes this 1920s Mission Swirl ewer ($600) by Niloak. The Arkansas firm’s name is "kaolin" (a substance in clay) spelled backwards. Jack Vinales Antiques, 539 S. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota (941) 957-0002.

Dragon of Deruta The classic Raffaellesco (dragon) pattern inspired by Raphael’s 16th-century Vatican frescoes is steeped in legends promising good luck. It adorns imported Deruta pitchers ($50 for the half-liter size) at Florentine Ceramics, 1405 First St., Sarasota, (941) 365-8783.

Who’s In Store?

Marcia Boyle whipped up couture window fashions for friends and family long before they convinced her to take her talents public. And while her luxury home furnishings boutique sits on Main Street for all to peruse, the concept behind Parker Robinson is exclusivity for one and all.

"Expensive, stylish things are easier to find than high-quality, beautiful things that are inexpensive," says Boyle, who made it her mission to provide the best of both worlds at retail. "I couldn’t find the designer looks I wanted in stores, and I figured there were other people like me."

Parker Robinson was an instant hit, selling draperies that average $425 per panel from the same workrooms as designers’ $1,000 custom panels. "That equates to a bargain, exclusivity and instant gratification all in one," Boyle says.

The store quickly morphed into a total decorating source with everything from bed linens, accessories and accent pieces to custom furniture. "It’s everything I love," Boyle concludes. "I call it traditional with a twist."

Can’t Live Without "Draperies and fabrics; they’re my passion, and I can’t imagine a home without them." Boyle chose an antique silk to customize this pillow ($800).

Personal Style "I’m very traditional, but I’m not a clutterbug." She likes rooms that "breathe" and clean-lined classics like this bergere ($6,495) from Grande Arredo, updated with glossy white leather.

Thrill of the Hunt "We just added a back room that satisfies the need to plunder." Appropriately called Portobello Road, it’s filled with tiny treasures like hard-to-come-by antique salt spoons ($15) and salt cellars ($16 to $22).

Shop Talk

She’s a Card At Judy Krohngold’s new card and gift shop, the jokes are free and service is as stellar as the funky wares. With background music and candles wafting, visitors linger over witticisms on everything from soaps to hand-picked cards. "We’re pet-and-people-friendly," Krohngold says, as Charlie the Shoodle (her Shih Tzu and poodle mutt) beguiles. Shop du Jour, 536 S. Orange Ave., Sarasota (941) 323-8750.

Italian Convertible Chic, sleek and surprisingly affordable, this marvel of Italian engineering ($899) converts from coffee table to 60-inch dining table in seconds. "It’s great for small condos, but customers love it as an extra holiday dining table for the kids," says Rhonda Keller, owner of this brand-new Gulf Gate home store. Contemporary Home Accents, 6544 Superior Ave., Sarasota (941) 934-9605.

Flea Market Find This new take on the Paris flea market sofa is exquisitely proportioned, decked out in a mélange of leather, plaid and toile and incredibly priced at $2,650. European Traditions, 5201 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 921-5616. 

Haute Totes

Spring just got springier with these hot little purses.

By Jill Obrochta Dambro

Queen Bee You’ll create quite a buzz with this stately clutch. Straw paired with silk creates a luxurious finish. And a Swarovski crystal-encrusted bee makes this pouch fit for royalty. Eliza Gray. $310. Saks Fifth Avenue, Sarasota (941) 364-5300.

License to Love. Crafted with recycled license plates, hubcaps and real tires (only a woman could turn a hubcap into a fashion statement), and set ablaze with Swarovski crystals. A true heartthrob. Little Earth, Road Flair. $250. The Perfect Pair, 8131 Lakewood Main St. No. 105, Lakewood Ranch (941) 907-1552.

The Perfect Hideaway Tuck your essentials in this sweet little leatherette. Feminine flowers and fringed tassels add the right amount of allure. Neutral colors of pink and bone make for a versatile, tiny take-along. Violette Nozierrs. $228. L. Boutique, 610 S. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota (941) 906-1350.

Gold Rush Pack your treasures away for safe keeping in this roomy satchel. Gold foil leather embossed vault with a sleek golden metal bamboo handgrip holds a lot of coins, Miss Moneybags! Trina Turk. $358. L. Boutique, 610 S. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota (941) 906-1350.

Super Fly What a feminine flutter! Other girls will be green with envy as you don this butterfly-graced emerald gem. Hand-dyed silk, sculpted applique and hand-beaded. Mary Frances. $162. Attitudes in Lakewood Ranch on Main Street (941) 929-2928.

Fetch a Pail of Wowie Lots of "jack" on this sparkly sack. Cream and tan alternating panels of leather contour a handy drawstring duffle dripping with a triple strand of translucent gem-colored beads and encrusted with more magnificent jewels.†Definitely worth tumbling after. Mary Frances. $150. Attitudes in Lakewood Ranch on Main Street (941) 929-2928.

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